Per my last update, we were heading to HyperFest at VIR for some testing and then Orlando for the 2nd round of the Formula Drift Pro-2 championship. Well, those events did happen… just with some “mixed results” one could say.
First off, I love the Patriot track at Virginia International and I always look forward to running laps on that track. It really suits my eyes well and it’s always a fun group or guys that gather for that event. Overall, the car ran very well and we left this event feeling very encouraged with our performance.
While at VIR we concluded that a change in our wastegate mounting/exhaust was needed to gain some ground clearance. Back at the shop, we made the required changes straight away but during assembly we found that our stainless mid-pipes had deformed a bit under the heat so they required some last-minute alterations. These alterations absorbed our time that was earmarked for some “check-over dyno pulls” before the car was loaded for it’s Florida trip. These kinds of last-minute changes are also a perfect time for things to get overlooked and when the car got strapped into the trailer, unfortunately it was without a pair of vital exhaust gaskets that would cause us some grief down the road. Also unbeknownst was the fact that the engine that was completely new only a few months previous was about to have some serious issues of it’s own.
When we unloaded off the trailer in Orlando, I knew right away there was something wrong. The car just wasn’t the same as it was a week ago in Virginia in terms of power. We checked over everything that we could and didn’t see any real issues so we were a bit stumped. Luckily our tuner Steven from 42 Autosports was on hand so he did everything possible with the engine management system to give us all the power he could find. As it turned out (once we got the car back on the dyno in North Carolina), we were running the car with approx. 400 less horsepower than we should have had. This ultimately would kill our chances of making the field as we qualified 17th for the 16-place starting grid in Pro-2. In reality, the fact that we were 17th was a bit of a miracle considering who little power the car was actually making but we missed the show nonetheless and that really hurt.
Once back in Charlotte, we got the car back up on the dyno to find where everything had gone wrong. We found the missing exhaust gaskets (that only leaked once the system was under high-boost) cost us our initial power and then somehow the valve seats in the cylinder heads deformed, not sealing once the valves closed (maybe under the prolonged runs on the nitrous trying to make some power at the event) and caused the cylinders to leak pressure. All this meant it was time to pull the engine out and recondition the heads… Yeah, that’s not in this year’s budget.
Again, thanks to our friends at 42 Autosports, we pulled the motor down and sent the heads off to be repaired. With a fresh valve-job, it wasn’t long before the engine was back together and ready for more dyno-time. So back on dyno it went and right away we knew something was wrong as the engine wouldn’t come up to full song. At this point we really don’t have a firm grasp of how or why but the driver’s side turbo just didn’t seem to get enough oil to it and before we knew it, we had lost its bearings and that was that. Only a few days before we were to leave for Texas Round-3, we were dead in the water once again and no time to get it resolved, game over.
Needless to say, my frustration level is pretty high but all I can do is look forward to round-4, get the car back to 100% working order and make a hard run at it when we get to Phoenix.
So until next time, please keep an eye on my Facebook page for more updates…